What Do Preteens Do On the Internet?
How Kids Use the Computer and Internet
In order to make sure I understood the up and coming tween* market, I put on my investigative journalist hat and interviewed three people about what kinds of things they look up on the internet. One was an eleven-year-old girl living in a small town, another was an eleven-year-old boy living in a big city, and the third was a parent. Since all three of them listed the same categories, I felt I had a representative sample and could accurately report my findings to you.
In order to avoid personal questions, I asked them "What kinds of things do you and kids your age search for on the internet? What do they Google?"
I thought it would help me figure out what kinds of hubs to write. All three of them answered with types of things they do on the internet. I think that words like "search" and "Google" have taken on bigger meanings than in my day. Because things are easy to find, the searching part is a negligible part of their internet experience.
* A tween is a person who is in the life stage between childhood and adolescent, basically 10 - 12 years old, also known as preadolescence. Some people add eight- and nine-year-old kids in the category as well.
Here are the results:
Kids search for images of things that interest them. If they are interested in a musical instrument, they may search for photographs of that instrument. There are many different kinds of guitars, for example, so they search for cool variations of guitars.
They also look for images of things to draw. For example, the tween boy who was interviewed wanted to draw a camel for a school project. He found a photograph of a camel as a reference, so he could draw it.
He also looked for images of characters in a game to draw them. He did not share these images with friends. They were all basically for personal use.
Both the kids said they enjoyed playing games on the internet, so they search for internet games.
The parent said his son looks up information about his favorite game, League of Legends. He looks up information about new characters, role simulations, and related topics.
They also look for hacks for games they enjoy away from the computer, such as their Xbox games.
Both of the tweens said that the only information they seek is for school. They look up what something is, or how to spell a word, a meaning of a particular word, or research a topic for a project. They may use Google translator to help them with their foreign language class.
They both said that they do not search for information for their personal use, such as how to deal with parents, teachers, or the opposite sex. They said that they prefer to ask their parents for that type of information.
The parent mentioned that this was a faster-paced, results-oriented process.
The teacher may be upset because all of the child's sources for a research project are from the internet. If all the information can be found on the internet, why look for other mediums such as books and magazines? There is scholarly information and scientific analysis available on the internet now, and doing things the long way with books and periodicals does not necessarily provide additional value.
Both the kids said they look for videos, particularly of funny things. They enjoy comedy and watching entertaining videos.
What does your Tween Do on the Internet?
These results will also be the similar for children that are younger. They are basically looking to the internet for help with their school projects, and for entertainment. Younger children will generally have further restrictions on which sites they can visit, and may be limited to playing parent and teacher chosen games such as math and critical thinking games, instead of simply fun games they choose for themselves. The level of the school work will obviously vary according to their grade.
Summary of Findings
There you have it. Tweens look for games, entertaining videos, and images. The information they search is basically oriented to completing schoolwork questions and projects.
They do not seek information of a personal nature. That must come as they get older.